Community services

Take a Look Inside Des Moines’ Urban Dreams New Community Services Building

Since 1985, Urban Dreams, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to serving the underserved in Des Moines, has rented office space in the Riverbend neighborhood.

Soon it will have its own place.

By the end of June, the nonprofit plans to move into a renovated building at 1615 2nd Ave., which it purchased in mid-December.

The 11,000 square foot building, named Wellmark Urban Dreams Community Center, will not only have state-of-the-art amenities for the community, but is also 10,000 square feet larger than its currently leased facility at 601 Forest Ave.

“It took a long time to get here, but it was worth it,” said Izaah Knox, Executive Director of Urban Dreams.

So far, the organization has secured approximately $1.1 million in funding for the space. The executives are hoping to raise $2 million so they can tick everything off their list.

Izaah Knox, Executive Director of Urban Dreams, tours the organization's new space, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022, in Des Moines.  Urban Dreams' new location will offer more space for events, an expanded food pantry, and an esports center.

“To have a beautiful space that an organization, which is so trusted in the community, has… matters,” Knox said. “It gives hope to people in the community that they can do the same kind of things.”

Currently, the nonprofit operates in what Knox calls “tight neighborhoods.” Staff members are grouped together in offices that sometimes also function as a classroom.

Many rooms in the new space are filled with natural light, Knox noted as he excitedly showed off the new building. He made a grand gesture to indicate the large open spaces around the building which will provide multiple services, from events to esports.

Inside the building, Urban Dreams will be renovated and moved in later this summer, Thursday, February 24, 2022, in Des Moines.  Urban Dreams' new location will offer more space for events, an expanded food pantry, and an esports center.

One of these spaces on the far right of the building will be dedicated to an esports lab with a virtual reality hub and golf simulators.

When designing the new building, Knox said it was important to be able to provide city kids with the same kind of amenities as suburban kids.

“I mean all the colleges in the metro now…Simpson, Drake, Grandview…they’re all working on clubs and esports programs,” he said.

The virtual golf simulators received approval from North High School’s golf coach, Knox said.

“Having golf simulators at Urban Dreams would give kids a great opportunity to learn about golf,” said Jon Augspurger, Des Moines North’s golf coach, in a statement Knox provided to the Des Moines Register. the beauty of going golfing is that I can’t show them what it’s all about. I can only tell them, and it’s hard to do.

The proposed layout for Urban Dreams' new headquarters at 1615 2nd Ave.

The left side of the building will be dedicated to professional services, such as mental health and addiction treatment. This area will also have a built-in pantry where residents can pick up items instead of the current system where workers pick items for them due to limited space in the old building.

There will also be a large community event space at the rear of the building, which will accommodate approximately 175 people. The event space will be connected to an outdoor space by large overhead sliding doors.

Izaah Knox, Executive Director of Urban Dreams, tours the organization's new space, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022, in Des Moines.  Urban Dreams' new location will offer more space for events, an expanded food pantry, and an esports center.

The new space will feature community artwork on two outdoor spaces and one indoor dedicated to murals.

Melody Mercado covers the Des Moines city government for the registry. Contact her at [email protected] or Twitter @melodymercadotv.